SAP's Orca leaps from the depths early, Needled by Amazon

Race to analytics-as-a-service

Killer whale, photo via Shutterstock

SAP announced its brand new cloud analytics service under pressure from mighty Amazon.

Europe's largest software maker pre-announced Project Orca, now officially named Cloud for Analytics, in response to Amazon's Space Needle BI-analytics-as-a-service, The Register has learned.

Sources close to SAP told The Reg SAP hadn't planned to make an announcement for "months," but its hand was forced by Amazon's competitive offering.

The Reg was told SAP's president of platform solutions Steve Lucas pushed the button early, concerned that Amazon was stealing the company's thunder.

SAP's vice president of global product marketing and EPM & GRC analytics Dave Williams confirmed they had gone early on announcing Orca. He insisted, however, that it was weeks early, not months. The firm's TechEd next week in Las Vegas, Nevada, is where they had planned to make the announcement.

Williams said Cloud for Analytics would be available this quarter, with details of trials announced at next week's event.

Pricing has not yet been finalized, but will be subscription.

Lucas told the world via the Wall St Journal about Project Orca on October 5 – the day after news of Jeff Bezos's Space Needle leaked in the WSJ and was formally announced at his firm's annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

SAP updated the Project Orca name to Cloud for Analytics on Tuesday this week. The BI (business intelligence) service will run on SAP's HANA cloud.

Williams told The Reg: "What drove us to pre-announce a little was we wanted to capitalize on the momentum and awareness level that Amazon had created around analytics, so that going into TechEd we had a more rolling thunder unveil rather than unveiling it there."

It's rare for tech firms to acknowledge each other's existence, especially on news.

Why did Lucas allow his hand to be forced by another – yes, a partner, but a rival with Space Needle?

"One, they are Amazon, anything Amazon does creates attention, and also they are a big partner of ours," Williams said.

Cloud for Analytics will include planning modeling, profitability modeling, predictive analytics, and risk management, with the service supposed to be the kind of BI service for finance professionals and those in lines of business.

Williams said Cloud for Analytics would be a stronger offering than Space Needle because it offers more sophisticated modeling and visualization, with AWS using Tableau Software in the UI. ®

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